LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE GIRLS 2-11-09

Tom Batters

Richwoods concluded its regular season last night with a 54-43 win at Woodruff.

The Lady Knights finished the regular season at 27-3 overall (7-1 in the Mid-State 6 Conference) and moved up one spot to No. 2 in the Class 3A poll behind undefeated Quincy Notre Dame.

Mariah Smith and Katie Murphy each scored 14 points for the Lady Knights, who will play the winner of the Dunlap/Woodruff game Feb. 18 in the first round of the Dunlap Regional.

Richwoods got off to a slow start, trailing 10-2 after the first three minutes, before going on a 13-2 run to close out the first quarter.

Senior guard Amber Metzger led the comeback with a three-pointer and an old-fashioned three point play when she made a free throw after getting fouled on a converted fast break layup.

The Lady Knights scored just two pints in the second quarter and took a 19-18 led into halftime.

Smith scored nine points in the third quarter, but sharp- shooting from Terlesha Roberts and Carissa Casey kept Woodruff close. Casey had a game-high 19 points.

Richwoods outscored Woodruff, 19-14, in the fourth quarter to pull away.

“Woodruff is a quick, athletic team and their shooters (Casey and Roberts) always have good games against us,” said Richwoods coach John Gross. “That’s a good win for us. It’s never easy to play at Woodruff.”

Gross said he was concerned that the Lady Knights got off to a slow start, just like they did Saturday against Moline, before coming back to win in the fourth quarter.

“In the Moline game, and tonight’s game, our bench really came through for us,” he said. “They helped us overcome some foul trouble and they gave us good minutes down the stretch.”

Against Woodruff, Shyla Nott, Kelli Dunne and Karissa London all played for most of the fourth quarter after Murphy and Maddie Nieukirk got into foul trouble. Dunne had four points and four rebounds.

Gross said he is not happy about having to go through the Mid-State 6 Conference teams again (and possibly Dunlap from the Mid-Illini) in order to advance through the Dunlap Regional.

“I’d rather not play the conference again, but you have to do what you have to do,” he said. “Dunlap is a good team, too. We saw them play Woodruff Saturday, and that game could have gone either way.”

‘BRACEKTOLOGY’

One of my favorite days of the year is Selection Sunday, when the brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament are announced. I enjoy filling out the bracket (with eraser in hand), and keeping track of my teams as they make their way through each round or suffer devastating losses. I like to try to pick “upsets” or “sleeper” teams that I think will surprise the Dukes and North Carolinas. So, I thought I would have the same kind of fun with the upcoming Dunlap Regional.

Here are the “brackets:”

• Monday:

Dunlap vs. Woodruff

• Wednesday:

Richwoods vs. Dunlap/Woodruff winner

Notre Dame vs. Central

• Friday:

Winners of Wednesday games play for the Regional title.

• In Monday’s game, I’ll take Dunlap. The Lady Eagles just lost to Woodruff in a close game Saturday. I look for them to regroup and be more prepared for what Woodruff will throw at them.

• I’ll also take Dunlap as my “sleeper” team in Wednesday’s game against Richwoods. Hey, it can happen. Richwoods is a great team that is very capable of making a run at a state championship. Losing to Dunlap would be a shocker, but it wouldn’t be as big of an upset as some might suggest. Dunlap has five seniors who can score, rebound and play defense. The Lady Eagles are playing well of late, and they will be on their home floor.

• I’ll also pick the upset in Wednesday’s second game. I like Notre Dame to beat Central. The Irish gave Central a close game a couple weeks ago, and they are also playing very well of late (except for a baffling loss to Manual Jan. 29).

• So, that sets up a Dunlap vs. Notre Dame Regional championship game on Friday. I’ll stick with the Lady Eagles at home, and pick them as the Regional winner. The NCAA Tournament is always filled with interesting subplots. My Regional championship prediction would feature an interesting one, too. It would match former Dunlap coach Ron Carrothers (now the coach at ND) against the Lady Eagles.

There you have it. Keep in mind, I usually do a horrible job on my NCAA bracket, so don’t take my girls predictions to the bank. But, that was fun to pick. Now, I’ll sit back and enjoy the games, even if my predictions fall apart.